Local doctors, researchers working to help patients with IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease affects millions across the country

ROANOKE, Va. – Doctors and researchers with Carilion Clinic in Roanoke are leading efforts to identify and address the challenges of properly diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease.

Thursday, doctors from across the country and Canada spent the day at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine for the first Virginia Tech Carilion National Inflammatory Bowel Disease Conference.

"We might be able to avoid a lot of problems for the patient," said Dr. Dario Sorrentino, a gastroenterologist with Carilion. "The pain, all of the problems that would impact their personal life."

One of Sorrentino's patients, Craig Tollin of Roanoke, struggled with extreme discomfort and stomach pains for 10 years before meeting with Sorrentino and being diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

"Knowing what it is, at least I could say, here is the definitive answer, this is what I have to do going forward to improve my life," Tollin said.

Sorrentino said Tollin's case was complex, but people with inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn's, often go years before finding out what's causing their symptoms or may be misdiagnosed.

"Unfortunately, inflammatory bowel disease symptoms overlap with a very common condition which is called IBS, irritable bowel syndrome," Sorrentino said.

Sorrentino said the work and research they're doing regarding inflammatory bowel disease can not only help people in Southwest Vrigina, but also people across the country.

"We might be able to completely change the way we approach the disease," Sorrentino said. "We may even be able to prevent it completely."